Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Join experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal to explore the vibrant, revitalized neighborhoods of Bogotá and Medellín, and meet with local leaders who are working to transform these cities into centers of creativity.
  • Tour sustainable cacao and coffee farms and learn how innovative agricultural practices are providing Colombian farmers with renewed economic opportunities.
  • Hike the pristine landscapes of Matarredonda Ecological Park, and glimpse age-old tribal traditions on rare visits to indigenous mountain communities.
  • Explore the once off-limits town of Valledupar and immerse yourself in vallenato—the iconic, accordion-led music of Colombia.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Emerald mountains, quaint colonial towns, irresistible coffee, and the nostalgic strains of vallenato music—Colombia’s riches have been inaccessible to travelers for decades, but the country is emerging from its tumultuous past following a landmark 2016 peace treaty. Witness the rebirth of Colombia’s major cities, and venture to the countryside to meet coffee and cacao farmers, former guerrilla fighters and indigenous tribes. Get immersed in Colombia’s rich culture as you travel, gaining firsthand insights on the nation’s splendid pre-European heritage and the traditions of the diverse peoples that call it home.

This trip is offered in partnership with The Wall Street Journal.

Day 1: Bogotá, Colombia

Arrive in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Settle into your elegant hotel, situated in the stylish Zona Rosa district.

Accommodations:Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia
Day 2: Bogotá

Set out to discover some of Bogotá’s most emblematic sights. Climb up the commanding Monserrate mountain for sweeping views of the city, then head down to the historic La Candelaria neighborhood—the heart of Bogotá. Bask in the glow of more than 30,000 pre-Columbian artifacts at the extraordinary Gold Museum; stroll across the grand Plaza Bolívar, named after South America’s celebrated liberator; and stop at El Chorro de Quevedo, where the city is said to have been founded.

Later, take a walking tour of the Egipto neighborhood and hear from your guides about the community’s dramatic transformation; then sample exotic fruits in a local market and enjoy a hip-hop dance performance. Tonight, join your experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal for a welcome dinner.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia
Day 3: Bogotá

Spend the morning in Matarredonda Ecological Park hiking through pristine paramo landscapes—a type of alpine grassland that grows just below the snow line. Later, learn about the significance and impact of Colombia’s monumental peace treaty. Signed between the Colombian government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in November 2016, the treaty marked the end of a violent civil conflict that had ravaged the country for more than 50 years. Meet with a university professor over lunch to hear about the efforts that brought the treaty to fruition. Pay a visit to the moving Fragmentos monument, conceived by the renowned Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo the exhibit incorporates 37 tons of melted down weapons turned in by FARC guerrillas.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia
Day 4: Zipacón/Valledupar

Immerse yourself in the aromatic world of coffee on an excursion to La Palma y El Tucan coffee farm. This sustainable, fair-trade farm buys its fruit directly from local families at a better price than the national average, and provides training opportunities to help farmers improve crop quality and yield. Tour the farm’s advanced milling and processing facilities, observe the different stages of coffee production—from bean to brew—and learn about what sets Colombian coffee apart. Then drive to the Bogotá airport to connect to your flight to Valledupar.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Sonesta Hotel Valledupar
Day 5: Valledupar

Known as the “forest city” for its abundant vegetation, the town of Valledupar was largely off-limits to travelers during the darker years of Colombia’s civil conflict. After breakfast, embark on a walking tour of this tree-lined city. Stroll the lively Plaza Alfonso López, then visit the Casa Beto Murgas Accordion Museum to learn about vallenato music, an expressive blend of African, European, and indigenous styles that originated around Valledupar. Admire the museum’s impressive collection of accordions, vallenato’s signature instrument. This afternoon, pay a visit to an indigenous Kankuamo village north of the city. Native to Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, the Kankuamo have managed to preserve their cultural identity and traditions despite centuries of persecution. Hear from community elders about the Kankuamo “law of origin,” and observe a dance performance and weaving demonstration.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Sonesta Hotel Valledupar
Day 6: San José de Oriente

This morning, we drive to the hilltop village of San José de Oriente for an eye-opening tour of Tierra Grata, a rehabilitation facility for ex-FARC guerrillas and their families. Talk with these former fighters and hear how agriculture and tourism initiatives are providing them with economic opportunity. After lunch, meet with members of an Arhuaco community. Another indigenous tribe of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Arhuaco have been battling the Colombian government to roll back mining projects that threaten the ecology of their ancestral lands. We’ll have the opportunity to speak with Arhuaco lawyers for an insider’s perspective on the dispute.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Sonesta Hotel Valledupar
Day 7: Medellín

Fly to Medellín, known as the “city of eternal spring.” Surrounded by lush mountains and fragrant flower farms, Medellín is undergoing a resurgence after a turbulent late 20th century, when it was ruled by drug lord Pablo Escobar. Settle into your chic hotel, and spend the afternoon at leisure.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Park 10
Day 8: Medellín

Spend the day learning about Medellín’s past and the strides the city has taken to ensure a safer future for its residents. Begin with a visit to Moravia, a former landfill that became home to thousands of rural migrants. Hear about the social, urban, and ecological efforts that have converted this space into a beautiful park; then continue to Comuna 13, once one of Colombia’s most notorious neighborhoods. Meet with local leaders and learn how government- and NGO-sponsored art and music programs have transformed this troubled area into a vibrant, creative community.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Hotel Park 10
Day 9: Medellín

After breakfast, head out for a tour of a sustainable cacao farm. Discover the history of this extraordinary fruit, native to Central and South America and cultivated for millennia by indigenous tribes; then learn about how the region’s chocolate production came to a halt when cacao farms were taken over by drug cartels to grow coca. Meet with farmers displaced by the conflict, and discuss the impact of a United Nations-backed project that is helping growers reclaim their farms and livelihoods. Try your hand at producing a bar of artisanal chocolate, and cap off the tour with a taste of pure hot chocolate, prepared in the Colombian fashion.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10: Medellín

Today, we explore Medellín’s La Sierra neighborhood, a mountainside district that is turning a new chapter thanks to the introduction of public transport. Visit the House of Memory Museum, which records the stories of the survivors and victims of Colombia’s civil conflict, and walk past evocative street murals. Prepare traditional Colombian specialties during a hands-on cooking class, then meet with a political scientist for an analysis of how the city’s strategic projects have impacted its citizens. Our tour culminates with a ride on La Sierra cable car, which gives a firsthand look at how new infrastructure is improving the quality of life for community members. This evening, toast your Colombia journey at a farewell dinner.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Park 10
Day 11: Medellín

Transfer to the Medellín airport for your international flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast